Leading with the chin on Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper has quit rugby, according to Danny Weidler and other such reputable sources of news.

Many, many people will disagree with me on this one. I know it, and feel free to comment with your well considered thoughts/petulant rants below should you inevitably not find this opinion to be the same as your own.

I’ve always been a big fan of Quade Cooper as a rugby player. Many Australians hate him, and with a baffling degree of hostility in my view.

When it comes to Quade Cooper, everyone is a Daily Telegraph journalist. You’re either a a “Cooper supporter” or you’re not. Things that Quade does on and off the field not only become things that those who oppose the Reds fly half use against Quade, but they use them against people who are “on his side.”

If you willingly put yourself in the “Cooper Camp,” you too become an object of scrutiny. When Quade kicks the ball out on the full, so to do you kick the ball out on the full. When the Wallabies’ hopes at the World Cup live and die on Quade, the Wallabies’ hopes also rest on you, a Quade supporter, because you happened to like watching a talented though enigmatic footballer.

When Quade steals a laptop, you should be put in prison for saying he’s good at footy. When he says the Wallabies’ environment is toxic or some such daftness, you are lumped in with him and throttled for his stupidity.

Friends of mine who are smarter than I have censured, berated and at times even hated me for wanting Quade Cooper to succeed. I have never seen a more divisive rugby player. Not even Sonny Bill Williams, who is more uniformly written off as a mercenary.

It is the most senseless case of fans hating one of their own I know of.

I say all this not to whine about my mates getting up me because Quade played poorly (which still baffles me) but because the guy could actually play football. He was good, and provided exactly what the rugby public in Australia yearn for: entertaining, bold and incredibly skilful play.

And for some reason that I will never understand, the fans and the ARU hung him out to dry.

So, for perhaps the last time, I’ll lead with the chin on Quade Cooper.

Quade Cooper leaving rugby is a big loss.

He made the Reds the best team to watch in the comp. He was at the helm when they won the 2011 Super Rugby competition, and inspired the Reds of 2010 to believe, and play well above their weight all year.

Forwardplay and backplay are the yin and yang of Rugby Football, and that year James Horwill and Quade were the leaders of their respective cohort, with Will Genia bridging the gap.

Horwill inspired the big men to punch it up, make metres, and do it for eighty minutes, game after game; while Quade dared his backs to dream, and produced the best highlight reel a Super Rugby team has ever made over just one season. The atmosphere around the Reds games was immense, better than any Wallaby game in the past five years.

Then apparently Quade, and he alone, lost the Wallabies the World Cup. He subsequently broke his leg in a dead rubber, the third place playoff against Wales, something no one in their right mind wishes on any footballer.

“Serves you right,” said many resentful and petty Wallabies fans. I’ve never heard people so glad that a player got injured.

Quade screwed it all up this year by calling the Wallabies’ environment “toxic.” Said sorry, fined $40,000, no insubstantial amount of money.

The ARU then offered Quade, who had already signed with the Reds, a signal of his intent to stay in rugby, an incentives only contract for 2013. He helped the Wallabies win the Tri-Nations in 2011, and the Reds the Super Rugby trophy in the same year.

He, of anyone in Super Rugby, offers the most marketable commodity in our currently stale setup. Even if he never plays for the Wallabies again, he will make back whatever the ARU offer him twice over simply by turning out for the Reds. People buy memberships and fill stadiums to watch this guy play.

He makes rugby entertaining, something Waratah and Wallaby supporters will know is no easy task.

People may thing Campo has lost his marbles, but he’s spot on when he says people like to watch tries being scored. Looking at the Wallabies right now and you will see that no tries are being scored.

Apparently, after the match against England, the Wallabies “are back in try scoring form.”

Guess how many tries it takes to be in form? One. Nick Cummins poked his bushy head over the white strip and apparently the Wallabies are good to watch again.

They’ve scored one try in their last three games, and an average of one per game for the whole year. Tries aren’t everything, and the team’s been hammered by injuries, I know, but when you’re only averaging one try a game you ain’t in try scoring form.

It’s a sad indictment on a nation that has a reputation for adventurous back play and great ball skills.

An in-form Cooper could have helped. He, James O’Connor, Kurtley Beale and Will Genia could have been a formidable attacking foursome for the next five years at least.

Now it’s lost. And for what?

I’m not in camp Quade or in any such nonsense. I just thought he was a good footy player and I liked watching him play.

I’ll miss that. Australian Rugby might miss him too.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Ben W on November 20, 2012 at 3:11 am

    Good article Pat. Convinced me pretty quick that we have been overly harsh on Quade. It also does seem a bit ridiculous he got fined 40 k for criticising the wallabies internal vibe. like what is this; Communist CHINA!!!! *crushes his VB tinny to the cheers of his mates* He brings excitement and he created line breaks. Berrick Barnes is the exact opposite, I’ve never watched a player get back to back man of the match awards and still want to drop him so bad. He is Mr Consistant(ly boring). We need some more excitement baby!!! tinnies on me!!!

    Reply

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